In this Global Glaucoma Week, we discover more about senior eye health and vision and ask; is loss of vision inevitable in old age?
The simple answer is: yes and no! As we age, the tissues in our eye do loose some of their function. That is inevitable. So, you might need glasses to read or drive where you didn’t before. However, the four most common causes of senior sight loss, if detected early through regular eye exams, can be treated, slowed or even prevented:
- Macular degeneration
- Diabetic retinopathy
The impact of poor vision for seniors
Losing their sight has a major impact on any senior’s wellbeing. A study by the Government of Canada found that seniors with vision loss compared to those without are:
- four times more likely to fracture their hip
- admitted to nursing homes three years earlier
- three times more likely to suffer from depression
- likely to fall twice as often
As the Canadian Association of Optometrists (CAO) says:
“Eye health and vision care are essential to healthy aging and to facilitate the contributions seniors make to their families, communities, workplaces, and society. Preventive services are key to helping aging Canadians maintain healthy eyes and vision.”
Senior eye health and eye exams
Regular eye exams are crucial for detecting eye diseases such as glaucoma early on, so they can be treated as required. More than 250,000 Canadians have chronic open-angle glaucoma, the most common form of glaucoma. Yet they may not have actually known this until their vision began to deteriorate. Regular eye exams can help detect glaucoma early, before major damage is caused.
That’s why you should have a regular eye exam before the age of 65, and certainly after. Indeed, after the age of 70, your risk from glaucoma rises. So even if you think your vision is fine, you should have an eye exam to monitor both your eye health and your sight.
Senior eye health at The Manor Villages
At The Manor Village, our Health & Wellness Team devise a personalized health and wellness plan for all Residents, including scheduling regular appointment such as eye exams, dental care, etc.
Our own in-house driver is available to take Residents to and from their appointments, so there’s no worries about transport either!
Good nutrition is also important for maintaining eye health. Our chefs devise balanced, nutritious meals that support wellness, and yes, some do contain carrots!
What is glaucoma?
Glaucoma is linked to high pressure in your eye, and causes damage to the optic nerve. If the pressure in the eye is too high, it can damage the optic nerve, which carries visual signals to your brain. The damage stops some signals reaching the brain, resulting in vision loss.
High eye pressure, or Intra-Ocular Pressure (IOP), can be a precursor to glaucoma. It is caused by a buildup of the aqueous humor, a natural fluid that fills the front of your eye. If the aqueous humor cannot flow out of the eye at its usual exit point, it remains in the eye, causing IOP. However, of the 10% of people aged over 40 who will have IOP (also known as ocular hypertension), only 1 of those 10 will actually develop glaucoma.
Simple tests for glaucoma at any age
A regular eye exam will enable your optometrist to comprehensively test your eye health and assess your vision too. The glaucoma test often is just a simple puff of air directed on your eye, which tests the pressure. If this is high, the eye exam may also include a retinal scan (image) which shows the point where your optic nerve joins the back of your eye. Your optometrist may also conduct a field vision test, to assess how well you can see at the far edges of your natural vision. All of these tests are simple, non-invasive, and can be conducted as part of a normal eye exam by your own optometrist.
Help for seniors with vision loss
Loosing some of your sight doesn’t mean missing out on the fun things in life! The CNIB have lots of helpful guides on various aspects of sight loss. They are also promoting Phone it Forward, a program that gives smartphones to people with sight loss. So if you have an old smartphone or are due an upgrade, why not donate your old smartphone. You’ll even get a tax receipt!
A vision for senior living at The Manor Village Life Centers
Our aim at every Manor Village in Calgary BC and London ON is to help Residents enjoy independent worry-free retirement living, with or without assistance and support. Book your personal tour of any one of our senior living communities today and see for yourself!